SHP announce air travel to Mendi

To enhance travel and subsidize passenger air travel to and from Mendi in Southern Highlands Province (SHP), the Provincial Government today announced the advancement of K2million to PNG Air.

The objective behind the strategic initiative is to promote efficient and affordable connectivity for SHP residents and businesses with the rest of PNG, facilitating market access for local commodities, and positioning SHP as an attractive travel destination.

Since the election-related violence in 2017, Mendi Airport has been closed. Governor for Southern Highlands Province, William Powi, shared that he was grateful for announcing an advancement of the K2 million to PNG Air to commence flights to Mendi, SHP.

“We want to showcase to the people of Southern Highlands and the people of Papua New Guinea that the SHP Government has now embarked on this great partnership with PNG Air. In this year we will finalize and of course, sign the memorandum of Understanding that should give the terms and conditions of this partnership on an agreeable basis between the SHP Government and Airlines PNG,” said Powi.

The governor also appealed to the government to clear the Mendi runway.

“Mendi is now in its final stages of opening the Mendi airport, but the Civil Aviation Authorities, NASA and the National Airport Corporation must clear the airport in terms of meeting the minimum requirements that are there. That is the next phase,” said Powi.

Governor Powi shared that the payment of K2 million from the SHP government late last year in 2023 to Airlines PNG was to maintain the partnership and for the Airlines to serve Mendi and Moro airport in SHP.

PNG Air CEO, Brian Fraser, stated that the collaboration between the SHP Government and PNG Air reflects a robust public-private partnership. He said PNG Air is grateful to resume flights to SHP, particularly Mendi.

"Mendi as we all know is a significant hub in our Highland provinces, it’s a contributor to the oil and gas and also the mining sectors. This initiative allows air transport to recommence in the SHP will mobilize business, employment, and tourism and offer benefits to the people of SHP which they have been missing out on for many years. With that, I thank the governor, and on behalf of PNG Air we look forward to operating in SHP a contributing to the socio-economic development of its people,” said Fraser.

The successful commencement of these subsidized air travel services hinges on essential infrastructure works at the Mendi airport, a responsibility entrusted to the National Airport Corporation. Additionally, the Civil Aviation Authority's issuance of Part 139 certification for the Mendi airport is a critical step towards realizing this transformative initiative.

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